From 11.59pm this evening, Nelson will be closed for business.
“It’s going to be really tough for the community,” Mayor Rachel Reese told the Nelson Weekly. “But I really want to reinforce that it is essential that people follow the guidance they have been given.”
New Zealand will be in alert level 4 – meaning schools and non-essential services across New Zealand will be closed for at least the next four weeks after the Government put the country in nationwide lockdown to try to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“We have been tested before with emergencies and this is bigger than we have ever faced,” says Rachel. “But I really trust the systems we have in place.”
She says that, behind the scenes, staff across sectors have been working for more than a month in preparation for this new reality.
“It’s a shocking situation if you are not expecting it. But there is a real sense of a community and that is a strength for us.”
There are now five known cases of Covid-19 in the Nelson region. In Nelson, a man and woman, both in their 70s and related to each other were confirmed to have the virus.
A woman in her 50s in Nelson was also confirmed and her case was linked to another.
The 51st case was a 20-year-old woman who was in self-isolation at home after returning to Nelson on flight 5065 from Auckland on March 16. She went into isolation immediately upon her return.
The case in Tasman involves a man in his 20s, his international travel details are yet to be released.
“We know the case have gone up in the region,” Rachel says. “We are watching those numbers.”
Rachel says she understands that those cases are well contained, however, she had a warning.
“We need to contemplate that there is going to be community outbreaks.”
That is where it becomes so important to follow the rules of self-isolation, she says.
“This is not a time that you will do half of the instructions. This is where you need to do what you have been told.”
She says essential services will remain to help look after the elderly, the homeless and visitors to the region. Rachel hopes that Nelsonians will be able to show hospitality to those visitors, where they can.
“I want people to think how they would want us to treat their own son or daughter. And we need to be really kind to them.”
Rachel also hopes that employers will take a moment to pause before making rash decisions about their employees.
“I know that this is an incredibly stressful time for them.”
She wants them to give central and local government a few days to put in place systems that could allow them to keep staff on.
“There is good support.”